Volume 20, Number 50 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | April 27 - May 3, 2011
On the spot
BY John Bayles
This week we put Sam Schwartz on the spot after he recently appeared on Comedy Central’s, “The Colbert Report.” Schwartz writes a column for Downtown Express called Transit Sam and is the owner of Sam Schwartz Engineering.
Had you ever watched the Colbert Report before they contacted you?
Yes, I DVR “The Colbert Report” every night, although I’m a bigger fan of “The Daily Show.”
Were you aware of the show’s satirical nature, specifically that your quotes would most likely be taken out of context?
I knew it was a comedy channel. It was my big break to get into comedy. I knew the role and I played the role to the hilt.
How did the whole thing come about?
Kyle Peterson got a ticket for riding his unicycle on the sidewalk. The Daily News did a story about it and they contacted me. I told them regardless of how many wheels, he shouldn’t be riding on the sidewalk. Then I got a call from “The Colbert Report.”
Were you surprised when the Colbert people contacted you?
Yes. I never expected to be on “The Colbert Report,” but those things have kind of followed me around. My wife is a huge fan of Stephen Colbert and I knew I couldn’t pass up that opportunity. I’m still trying to impress her after 35 years of marriage.
Have you ever ridden a unicycle?
No, I have not.
Do you stand by your position?
Absolutely. The law should be changed to include unicycles.
What is the law currently?
The law states that no one shall ride a bicycle on the sidewalk if they are 13 years of age or older. Then later on it defines a bicycle as having two wheels, three wheels, and is self-propelled.
So then Mr. Peterson was not breaking the law.
Literally speaking, he was not breaking the law.
Where you live, are you seeing cyclists that are breaking the law?
I observe the Prince Street bikeway just about every single day and still about 20 percent of the bikers are going the wrong way. But it has made the traffic on Prince Street move better. As a pedestrian, a bike rider and a driver, Prince Street is better and you rarely hear that driving is better because of a bike lane. I used to dread telling a taxi driver to go down Prince and now it’s the preferred street.
What is Sam Schwartz Engineering working on in Lower Manhattan right now?
In Lower Manhattan we’re working on the logistics for the World Trade Center. We did Canal Park in Lower Manhattan and we’re working on traffic control for Goldman Sachs in front of their building. And we’re working on logistics with the National September 11th Memorial and Museum for the 10th anniversary.